Iran votes tomorrow and the final day of campaigning saw the two leading presidential candidates throw their last punches in what has been a bitter and acrimonious campaign.
President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was a surprise winner four years ago, the first non-cleric to hold the job. He is supported by the military, the revolutionary guards, the state-owned media, and crucially, supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. “I am ready to fight for Ahmadinedjad – with all my blood if it is necessary,” said one supporter. Ahmedinejad spent his last day in several locations seeking to bolster his vote in smaller urban centres and rural areas, where he is seen as a champion of the poor, and drawing large crowds, the women on one side, and the men on the other. His most serious challeger is the more moderate former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, who spent his last day campaigning drawing a huge crowd in the capital, Tehran. “He will stop the inflation, and the lies that are told to people because it has been four years of our country going downhill. We would like to take hold of the country by ourselves,” said a Mousavi supporter. Whoever wins will have a sick economy to turn round. Inflation has rocketed in the past four years, revenues are down with the lower price of oil and gas, and corruption continues to be a widespread problem. Neither man will abandon Iran’s nuclear programme, although Mousavi says he will take a less antagonistic line with Iran’s critics.